How to Provide Child Support for a Special Needs Child By Don Sinkov{3:30 minutes to read} Remember my article on Parents of Special Needs Children are Special, Too? This is a follow-up on that subject.

I recently had a case where the parents had a fair amount of money. As part of their Settlement Agreement, they wanted to put aside funds for their special needs child. Their concerns centered around the cost of services he might need at some later date, especially after the age of 21 when child support would ordinarily end. We discussed the amount of money that they could comfortably put aside, but neither the parents nor I were sure of the best way to go about this. I asked them to schedule another mediation session and encouraged them to do research and gather more information. I decided to do the same on my own.

Usually mediators and arbitrators don’t do their own research, but truthfully, I’ve always done it. How can I be of service to my clients unless I fully understand the specific subject matter? Just because you are a mediator doesn’t mean you know everything.

I met with a special needs attorney and a special needs advocate. The advocate was Jess Mazlin of Balanced Warriors Family Consulting (914-406-6781). She gave me a wealth of information on what the family and I would be discussing. We invited her to attend the next mediation session so she could offer her expertise to the parents about providing financial support for their special needs child.

For instance, child support should be going into a special-needs trust. The reason for the trust is that child support payments, going to the parent for the benefit of the child, could adversely affect the child’s ability to access Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in the future. I had never heard that before, which is what happens when you consult with professionals who know their stuff.

Since then, I’ve consulted with Ms. Mazlin on other cases and found her services invaluable. When you have a special needs child, you need an advocate. Some school districts are not happy about paying a lot of extra money to provide services for a special needs child. An advocate can help you get the services the child needs.

During the next mediation session, we put together a settlement but weren’t clear about language related to the creation of the trust. We met with a special needs trust attorney who worked out the details.

Mediating this case was very different from others I have done, but incredibly informative. By using a special need advocate and a special needs trust attorney, the parents and I not only became better informed, but also felt confident that the services their special needs child may need in the future are now provided for.

About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: